With 2.7 billion monthly active users, YouTube is one of the best ways for advertisers to connect with a massive audience. But fierce competition in the space (not to mention ever-dwindling attention spans) present a real challenge when creating YouTube advertising content. So how can you ensure your ads make a real impact with those hurdles to overcome?
That’s exactly what we asked Tom Youngblood, Google’s US creative effectiveness lead, in a recent Storyblocks webinar. During our chat, Tom shared a treasure trove of useful tips and thoughtful pointers for creating the best possible YouTube advertising. Watch the webinar now, or keep reading to learn some of the top tips from the discussion.
Tip #1: Don’t neglect the creative essentials of YouTube advertising
As creatives, tunnel vision can be an issue when we’re really jazzed about a project. That narrow focus can make us forget the core “building blocks” of effective content creation. Asking yourself the following questions can be a good way to ground yourself and make sure you’re focusing on what matters. Is your content hooking people right away? Is it grabbing their attention? When it comes to marketing, are you branding effectively and connecting with audiences in a meaningful way? Are you communicating your product effectively, and telling people what to do next? If you’re doing those basic things, “you’re going to be already doing better than a lot of other paid creative on the platform,” Tom says.
Tip #2: Variety is the spice of (content) life
Let’s be real: shooting the same type of content the exact same way over and over again can get boring. And if you’re bored, chances are your audience will be, too. Don’t be afraid to mix it up from time to time. If you normally produce long form ads 2-3 minutes in length, try your hand at creating six-second short-form ads. This will make it easier to post your content to different platforms, beyond YouTube advertising. Changing things up is also a great way to get the attention of AI-powered discovery engines, which Tom says “will thrive and feed off that variety a lot more because they have more choice.”
Tip #3: Take advantage of YouTube’s baked-in tools
Storyblocks helps creatives do their best work by providing a variety of resources like our massive libraries of content, templates, and plug-ins. By the same token, YouTube advertising content is most successful when creators use the huge assortment of tools YouTube offers. With Google Ads video creation tools, for instance, you can quickly and easily build YouTube-optimized ads. Simply upload your brand assets and choose from their catalog of templates and you’ll be ready to start creating. You can also leverage the YouTube creative directory to get help from YouTube’s trusted creative partners. Tom encourages users to think of the platform as “a creative canvas” for bringing their ideas for life. “We have some of the biggest latitude when it comes to online video storytelling capabilities, coupled with the ability to reach the right people effectively and deliver business results,” he says.
Tip #4: Have a testing mindset with YouTube advertising
At Storyblocks we’re big advocates of testing and iterating to fine-tune content, and YouTube is right there with us. Tom encourages approaching projects with a “testing mindset,” where you fearlessly experiment and push your creative boundaries. Beyond being an experience of learning and discovery, he points out that doing so can deliver better business results.
Tip #5: Don’t try to boil the ocean
When you’re trying to make YouTube advertising content more effective, don’t jump right into making costly and time-consuming changes. Instead, think about what simple optimizations and resources you have available to make your video a little bit better. Tom says bright, high-contrast assets, or starting videos off at a faster pace are easy tweaks that can make ads really pop. He’s seen from experience that small changes like adding vertical video to an existing campaign that’s only running horizontally can deliver a 10% better CPA (cost per acquisition) cost.
Tip #6: Remember your “ABCDs”
The most effective videos, whether YouTube advertising or content published elsewhere, tend to have certain similarities. Tom shared that YouTube has distilled those habits of highly effective content into what they call “our ABCDs.” That stands for Attract, Brand, Connect, and Direct. Following this structure will usually lead to “better short-term sales lift and better long-term brand awareness,” he says.
Get your audience’s attention and do it in such a way that will convince them to watch your ad all the way through and absorb it. Sound is particularly useful here, Tom says. Whether you use music, voiceover, or sound effects, sound helps orient viewers within the story you’re presenting them with.
To maximize awareness, YouTube advertising content should include enough branding so the audience knows who is speaking to them. Tom suggests that 3 brand mentions seems to be the magic number. This can include anything from showing your logo on screen to having voiceover talent talk about the brand or mention it by name.
While Tom admits the C in the ABCDs is a bit more ambiguous than the others, there are some best practices you should follow. For instance, emphasizing inclusivity and representation in your content resonates with viewers. It’s also key to show people how a product fits into their needs and lives, rather than only in a story context.
After you present a piece of content, give the viewer something to do. CTAs (call to actions) are important across the sales funnel, but Tom says it’s especially important when it comes to acquisition creative. “Telling people specifically what they should do at the end of a piece of content tends to lead to better results,” he says. Whether you’re asking people to visit a website or buy tickets for an event, make sure your ask is crystal clear.
Tip #7: When testing and optimizing, focus on one thing at a time
When refining elements of your YouTube advertising content, isolate one variable at a time for experimentation. Learn what you can from the results, then try something else with that same element or go back to the drawing board. “Don’t get lost in the nuance,” Tom says. “Allow learnings to stack together and after they’ve accumulated you’ll have a really robust knowledge.”
Tip #8: Make the most of available resources for YouTube advertising
B-roll and post-production are every video creator’s best friend when working with limited budgets. Sometimes an entire reshoot isn’t necessary when you can tweak something after you’ve wrapped production or insert some b-roll footage. In Storyblocks’ own advertisements we’ve added sound effects from our library that have significantly increased our watch time. Having access to a huge library to quickly swap out templates, add SFX and download b-roll is a huge time-saver.
Tip #9: Simple is sometimes best
The most elaborate and expensive YouTube advertising isn’t always the most successful. Sometimes audiences relate to something better when it’s a bit more lo-fi. A cruise line YouTube worked with made a series of short social videos that were a big hit. The videos featured a dad character sampling food from the cruise line and rating everything a perfect 10. The ads were charming and simple, and starred the father of a YouTube creator. Despite containing minimal branding, the spots “really communicated what the cruise line was about and really brought you into the moment,” Tom said.
Start creating YouTube advertising that drive results
With these expert tips now in hand, you’re ready to stand out from the competition and start creating YouTube ads that convert. You’ll find all of the content you need to make your videos grab audiences’ attention with a Storyblocks subscription. Our pre-made, customizable templates allow you to quickly add professional effects and animations. And our library of high-quality, diverse content gives your team unlimited creative possibilities for your ads.
Watch the full webinar for even more ways you can get your next YouTube advertising campaign off to a running start.